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31 in 31

Top prospects for New York Rangers

Andersson, Chytil will challenge for top-four center role this season

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the New York Rangers, according to NHL.com.

 

[Rangers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Lias Andersson, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: New York: 7 GP, 1-1-2; Hartford (AHL): 25 GP, 5-9-14; Frolunda (SHL): 22 GP, 7-7-14

Andersson, who turns 20 on Oct. 13, is expected to push to be a top-four center in New York this season after coming to North America last season and spending most of the offseason training in Connecticut.

Andersson (6-foot, 200 pounds) began last season with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League and was captain for Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Although he had a shoulder injury, he had seven points (six goals, one assist) in seven games and helped Sweden win the silver medal. Andersson joined Hartford on Jan. 19 and established himself as a top-six forward for New York's American Hockey League affiliate before the Rangers recalled him March 25 to play the final seven games of the regular season.

"I have to be stronger and faster and all that stuff to be ready [for a full NHL season]," Andersson said. "I think I've got the tools to be a good NHL player, but you have to learn the game and be ready physically."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: WSH@NYR: Andersson scores first goal in NHL debut

 

2. Filip Chytil, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 21 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: New York: 9 GP, 1-2-3; Hartford (AHL): 46 GP, 11-20-31

Chytil, who turns 19 on Sept. 5, will challenge to be one of the Rangers' top four centers this season. He made the roster out of training camp last season and played the first two games with the Rangers before being sent to Hartford. Chytl (6-2, 202) was recalled with Andersson on March 25 and scored his first NHL goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 30.

"I think I improved everything since the start of last season," Chytil said. "I feel more ready to play [in the] NHL."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: TBL@NYR: Chytil nets first NHL goal from the doorstep

 

3. Vitali Kravtsov, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 9 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL): 35 GP, 4-3-7

The 18-year-old became the Rangers' target at the 2018 draft in part because of his strong showing in the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs last season. Kravtsov (6-2, 170) had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 16 games to set a record for most points by a junior-aged player in the KHL playoffs. The previous record was nine, held by Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin. Kravtsov won the Alexei Cherepanov Award as the KHL rookie of the year.

Kravtsov will begin this season in Russia, with the intention to sign with New York when his KHL season ends. 

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

4. Igor Shesterkin, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 118 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): 28 GP; 20-4-4, 1.70 GAA, .933 save percentage, 7 shutouts

The 22-year-old is New York's goaltender of the future. Shesterkin (6-1, 187) set a Russian/Soviet record for consecutive shutout minutes in a single IIHF World Championship this year (140:00). He was 47-8-10 for SKA St. Petersburg the past two seasons; he had a 1.64 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and eight shutouts for SKA St. Petersburg in 2016-17 season, and a 1.69 GAA, a .933 save percentage and seven shutouts last season. He is signed in the KHL for one more season.

Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season

 

5. Libor Hajek, D

How acquired: Trade from Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26

Last season: Saskatoon (WHL): 33 GP, 8-17-25; Regina (WHL): 25 GP, 4-10-14

Hajek (6-2, 202) was acquired in the trade that sent defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller to the Lightning. The Rangers like the 20-year-old because of his size, mobility, two-way play and presence on the ice. They project the second-round pick (No. 37) in the 2016 NHL Draft as a top-four defenseman at the NHL level with top-pair potential.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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